Eagles Fans Ripped for Doing the Wave While Tyrie Cleveland Was Being Stretchered Off

Eagles fans have become villains again.
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Two Philadelphia Eagles players — linebacker Moro Ojomo and wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland — sustained neck injuries during their preseason game against the Cleveland Browns last night. A postgame update revealed that each have movement in all their extremities, which is a positive sign but also a reminder that professional football is wrought with hazards and everyone out there is putting themselves at great risk. That reality has been dulled to background noise over the years.

The shinier thing to look at is the behavior of the Eagles fans who took part in The Wave while Cleveland was being stretchered off. People are mad about it, saying that it was classless and not the time for such merriment.

And we get that. We really do. It feels wrong, perhaps because it is wrong and disrespectful. But if you think about it critically, it seems like yet another opportunity where the wrong entity is being villified and scapegoated. Nothing anyone was doing in the stands had any impact on the care Cleveland was receiving. A seriously injured player has more important things to worry about than what's happening on the mezzanine level and if fans are standing up in unison to pass the time. It's not like anyone was cheering what had just happened on the field.

When something scary happens, the responses vary. There is usually a pall and momentary silence which can last for a long time or quickly move on to a dull roar and casual conversation. Sometimes fans get together and show their positive support by clapping or chanting the players name. And sometimes they do the wave.

We don't have to automatically assume the worst of people and in this case it feels like people are taking on easy targets instead of the more disturbing reality that they are helplessly addicted to a sport that ruins bodies and brains. Maybe it makes them feel better knowing they wouldn't do the wave when a player is laying prone on the ground but that doesn't mean anything. Sadly, they'll get plenty of opportunities to show just how reverent they can be the next time someone's future is hanging in the balance.